During a frank one-hour open interview, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded to questions from visitors to his Arabic Facebook page, freely discussing such topics as the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Iran’s nuclear program, and what everyone hopes is the aptly-named ‘Arab Spring’.
On his administration’s efforts to pursue peace, Netanyahu said, “We are totally serious about our talks with the Palestinians: I am ready to go to Ramallah to negotiate with (Palestinian President Mahmoud) Abbas. Moving forward with negotiations is the only way to peace, and the Israeli people want peace. We need peace, and we need a Palestinian state that will live in peace with us. I hope that Abbas will seize the opportunity.”
His comments came just days after the Palestinian delegation quit preliminary bilateral peace talks hosted by Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Amman.
On Iran, the PM responded, “Iran is developing nuclear weapons in order to control the entire Middle East and beyond. This is a direct threat to peace.”
By most accounts, Israel is frustrated by the slow implementation of tougher international sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, the purpose of which, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) concedes, may not be strictly peaceful.
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In response to a question about Israel’s position on the Arab Spring, Netanyahu replied: “We want to see democracy in the Arab world and we hope it will happen. There are many false views about Israel in the Arab world – many Arabs are unaware that Arab Israelis sit as members of the Israeli parliament and the government and they enjoy full rights.”
“There is a misconception regarding Israel’s will to have peace,” continued Netanyahu. “This is why I’m talking to you over the Internet, and inviting you to come and visit us. Everyone who visited us in the past changed his view.”
The Israeli PM’s Arabic Facebook page has so far received over 20,000 ‘likes’.